Base Hit!: Is Ichiro Suzuki the Greatest Contact Hitter Who Ever Lived?

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2010

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 03:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at Peoria Sports Complex on March 3, 2010 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

When Ichiro Suzuki entered the league back in '01 he was far from unknown, underappreciated, or underrated. In fact if anything for a guy who had never played a MLB game, there might have been a better argument he was overrated.

Since then Ichiro has slowly but steadily fallen out of the spotlight and has become virtually untalked about all around baseball.

My question is, why?

He has nine MLB seasons and has already broken 2,000 career hits, and he has a career .333 batting average, which in this era is every bit as good as Ty Cobb's career .366 average, which was in an era where baseball and pitching wasn't nearly where it is today.

Also since then baseball has become a traveling mans game; playing in a different city every fourth day is cetaintly a daunting task.

However, what really separates Ichiro from the pack is the fact that he didn't step foot into a Major League batters box until after his 27th birthday.

Meaning that he could have left some of his best seasons behind him in Japan.

Ichiro hit .350 in his first season in a completely new baseball league and country where he didn't know any of the pitching or culture for that matter.

Do you think Ty Cobb could have moved to Japan in the middle of his career and immediately hit .350 and take home an MVP? Because I sure don't.

In today's era of baseball, each batter will face the starter 2-3 times on average a game, then they'll have to deal with the left-handed specialist or the fresh reliever out of the 'pen throwing gas.

There's a reason why nobody has hit .400 since 1941.

Had Ichiro started his career in the states, who knows how many hits he would have now. What we do know is that he would have almost definitely broke 3,000 hits and may not have been to far off from 4,000.

One thing Ichiro has done that Ty Cobb, Pete Rose, Ted Williams, or anybody else in baseball history were never able to do is smack more then 260 hits in a season.

Suzuki has spent nine years in the league and has led the league in hits six times. That's what I call dominant.

Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Ty Cobb, and Pete Rose were all unbelievable, but in my opinion never has a hitter been as great as Ichiro Suzuki.